School meals

PUBLISHED: 11:21 10 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:25 24 May 2010

The quality and choice of school meals will improve dramatically from next April, following the expiry of the current school meals contract. I have been a member of a tender appraisal panel consisting of council officers, elected councillors, head teache

The quality and choice of school meals will improve dramatically from next April, following the expiry of the current school meals contract. I have been a member of a tender appraisal panel consisting of council officers, elected councillors, head teachers, governors, PCT and a NHS dietician.Tenderers were invited to bid based on a set of criteria and specification and from advertising in the local and trade press, 11 companies initially expressed interest. The new school contract which will cater for 600,000 primary meals within North Somerset plus school meals in three Secondary schools although the council is looking to significantly increase this figure over the contract.New food and nutritional standards are not due to be implemented until 2008/9 but North Somerset Council has grasped the nettle and decided to implement all the new measures straight away and has incorporated the new requirements into the new contract, which for the first time is weighted in favour of quality over and above cost.The tender appraisal panel have recommended Edwards & Ward Ltd to be the new contractor and this has been approved by the executive members at the council. A report will now go to full council in January recommending final endorsement.Edwards & Ward are a company that impressed me immensely; they are committed to driving up quality by using fresh foods, using locally produced produce wherever and whenever possible. The company is strong on organisation, training and development to increase skill levels of employees. Some members of the panel visited other schools in another authority where Edwards and Ward Ltd provided school meals and everybody was impressed by the quality and variety of choice.The cost of school meals from next April will rise to £1.80 but there will be a huge improvement in school meals, the food standards and quality will be indistinguishable from what is available now. The cost of providing each meal by the contractor is £2.02 and N.S.C. will subsidise the difference. The take up of school meals in North Somerset is only 23 per cent against a national average of 40 per cent I strongly urge all parents to support school meals from next April and to give their children excellent Jamie Oliver style meals which also come with bread and unlimited drinking water.I am confident that school meal numbers will increase, increased numbers of children will be better fed and with increased take up of meals the subsidy element can be reduced in due course.Andy ColeNailsea East Councillor

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Weston Mercury

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists